No Comments: Board majority unwilling to add general ‘public comments’ during meetings

Special to the NEWS

At an administrative committee meeting on Tuesday, the majority of the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District board members attempted to stop the addition of an item to the board agenda that could bring general “public comments” back during board meetings.

SBCISD Board President Michael Vargas, who’s facing driving while intoxicated charges and a petition by some residents to remove him from office, joined Orlando Lopez, Janie Silva, and Victor Eloy Rosas in their attempt to stop M. L. Garcia and Angel Mendez to modify BED (Local) to restore general public comments at public meetings. Board member Sonia Weaver, who usually votes with the majority, was absent at Tuesday’s administrative committee meeting.

Although the school board does not take action at committee meetings, the majority attempted to stop Garcia and Mendez from bringing the matter to the next regular board meeting likely scheduled for next Tuesday (Nov. 19). Usually, committee meetings are designed to update, discuss, and review issues, but the majority acted as if they were taking action to stop the issue on the next regular board meeting.

“We can’t vote at committee (meetings),” Mendez said after the meeting. “All we need is two members of the board to place it on the agenda.”

When the school board voted a few months ago on the issue, M. L. Garcia said she was not fully aware that they were removing general public comments.

“I’m recommending to the board to please allow us to vote on this… on other comments not just items (on the) agenda,” said M. L. Garcia at the committee meeting.

Mendez agreed.

“Ultimately, it’s the public’s right to come out and challenge the government, the entity, or the body of governance,” Mendez said. “Public comments shouldn’t be eliminated from any dialogue from this board.”
Silva said she appreciates public comments, but she does not like the same issues being brought up over and over again.

Vargas and Lopez said they were not violating any laws and added that people could voice their concerns through other channels.

“Furthermore, there are other forms… that the public may express their displeasure [through],” Vargas said.

Before Sept. 1, when a new state law came into effect requiring school boards to allow public comments in the beginning or after the item on the agenda was discussed, SBCISD also had general public comments where people could bring any issue related to the district in an open forum.

The majority modified public comments as required by state law, but they also removed general public comments after people began to question Vargas’s troubles with the law in open forum.

Despite the new state law, in the surrounding school districts, Brownsville ISD, Los Fresnos CISD, and Harlingen CISD, all provide general public comments during regular board meetings.

Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the Nov. 15-21, 2019 issue of the NEWS.

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    • Frustrated Harlingenite` on November 24, 2019 at 4:36 pm
    • Reply

    It seems that Vargas isn’t the responsible role model that he “IS” supposed to be and also the coward NOT to hear comments about his pending criminal charges, lack of responsibility to the students of SBCISD and his position as President of the board. Just like his counter part, erasmo “I love my title” castro at BISD! Two peas in a pod of alcohol wanting to do whatever they want because of a title….

    • Mama Lou on November 16, 2019 at 11:55 pm
    • Reply

    It’s time to vote people who really care about our students ,their education, safety and future.

    • manuel garcia on November 15, 2019 at 10:19 am
    • Reply

    to warm the seat when she shows up . lol

      • Over the Top on November 15, 2019 at 6:33 pm
      • Reply

      Lol.. funny.. Manuel Garcia..
      those board members are just there to get their family members, friends -family of friends hired.
      Silva.. makes promises she doesn’t keep. But that’s okay… Karma will get them all.. eventually. . Just look at the board president..he already going thru “stuff”

    • Something to PONDER on November 15, 2019 at 6:09 am
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    Mrs Silva FORGETS what she signed up for. A question for Mr Lopez, what other avenues are available to the public to VOICE THEIR CONCERNS to this BOARD?
    In an age where we teach kids to STOP BULLYING EACH OTHER, it seems the BOARD itself should heed the message. Another question, has Mrs Weaver RESIGNED? Everytime there is an important VOTE to benefit the SMALL MINORITY, MRS WEAVER abstains or is ABSENT FROM VOTING? If this is NOT WHAT SHE SIGNED UP FOR, why is she there!

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